Telemedicine today is one of the most vital SATCOM application programmes of ISRO in the country. The Telemedicine Programme is an innovative process of synergising benefits of Satellite communication and information technology with Biomedical Engineering and Medical Sciences to deliver the health care services to the remote, distant and underserved regions of the country. ISRO has made a modest beginning in telemedicine using satellite communication in the form of a telemedicine pilot project in the year of 2001, connecting Apollo Hospital at Chennai with the Apollo rural hospital at Arogonda village in the Chittor district of Andhra Pradesh. Now a number of telemedicine networks are operational all over the country.
For north eastern states a project known as ISRO-NEC telemedicine project has been formulated in July 2004 using satellite communication through Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) to commission 72 telemedicine nodes in all the districts of all the north eastern states including Sikkim. The state wise breakup of the nos. of telemedicine centre is: Arunachal Pradesh-8, Assam-23, Manipur-9, Mizoram-7, Meghalaya-9, Nagaland-8, Sikkim-4 and Tripura-4.The major objectives of the project is to connect the district level hospitals to the specialty/super specialty hospitals of the region as well as outside the region for better healthcare at minimum cost using modern technology. The major stakeholders of the project are ISRO, North Eastern Council (NEC) and state governments of the region. NESAC is coordinating the project from ISRO side in installation & commissioning of the system, training, monitoring, trouble-shooting etc. Till date a total of 25 telemedicine centres (Table 1) has been commissioned and remaining 47 are in pipeline. Another telemedicine project known as Army Telemedicine Network for NER is also operational in the north eastern states in collaboration with Indian Army form March 2008. Under this network a total of 6 telemedicine centre (Table 2) has been commissioned in various army hospitals in the region.
Table 1: List of civilian Telemedicine centre in NER under ISRO-NEC joint Telemedicine program
Table 2: List of Telemedicine centre in NER under Indian Army
Beside this 31 (25 + 6) telemedicine centres, there are a number of telemedicine centre in NER commissioned by ISRO under different network. The locations of these centres are:
These telemedicine centres are providing noble services to the people of NER in health sector. Thousands of tele-consultancy and Continuing Medical Program (CME) has been carried out connecting many specialty and super-speciality hospitals like All India Institute of Medical Science, New Delhi; Narayana Hrudalaya, Bangalore; Amritha Institute of Medical Science, Cochin; Sri Ramchandra Medical College & Hospital, Chennai; Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Science, Lucknow; Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai; Fortis Hospital, Noida etc. A large nos. of patients as well as doctors are benefitted by this health service.